The Barons are close to having two No. 1 overall draft picks on their roster. Taylor Hall, the first player selected in the 2010 NHL draft, is expected to sign an American Hockey League contract on Thursday.
Given clearance by Edmonton Oilers doctors earlier this week, Hall might make his Barons debut 7 p.m. Friday when they host Houston at the Cox Convention Center.
“It's a relief,” Hall said. “I worked so hard this summer. I haven't played a game in 7½ months. To finally get into a game and try and prove myself is very exciting. I'll be very happy just to be playing again.”
The 20-year-old forward underwent shoulder surgery last spring. When healthy, he's been productive. He scored 95 points in 126 games the past two seasons in Edmonton.
Hall signed a seven-year, $42 million extension with the Oilers two months ago. He's expected to make around $70,000 in the AHL.
“What he (will) add is speed,” said Oklahoma City coach Todd Nelson. “He's a tremendous skater. He's very electrifying. He's exciting to watch. He's fearless. He goes in there hard. He finds ways to score goals.”
Edmonton's No. 1 forward line — young stars the organization is building around — is playing in Oklahoma City during the NHL lockout. But the trio might not play on the same line for another week or two.
With three games in three days this weekend, Nelson won't play the Oilers' young stars three consecutive days.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the No. 1 overall pick in 2011, probably won't play Friday. Jordan Eberle, a first-round pick in 2009, probably won't play at San Antonio on Sunday. Hall won't play back-to-back days as a precaution.
Hall said there will be an adjustment period playing in the AHL.
“It helped me a lot just to sit in the stands and watch games here,” Hall said. “It's not an easy league by any means. People don't give it as much respect as it should get. I feel I'm prepared. But once I get into the game I'm sure it will be a little quick to me. Hopefully, I get the hang of it right away.”
There also will be an adjustment not playing every game with Nugent-Hopkins and Eberle. If Hall makes his debut Friday, he probably will be on a line with Chris VandeVelde and Magnus Paajarvi.
“People don't realize having chemistry as a line goes into playing well,” Hall said. “It will be a little different mix-matching, getting chemistry with different guys. But I've played with most of these players before in Edmonton, but not Magnus.
“You have to have an open mind and be prepared for anything. I'm playing with good players. It's not like I'm playing with a couple of crumbs.”
Hall certainly isn't a crumb. He scored 78 goals his final two years of junior hockey and 49 goals with the Oilers after going straight to the NHL.
“He has that energy and passion in his game that many players don't,” Eberle said. “He has a huge shot, and his speed is a huge characteristic. There's a reason he went first overall.”
*The Oilers made a couple of roster moves involving the Barons. Forward Kristians Pelss was sent to Double-A Stockton (Calif.) of the East Coast Hockey League. Edmonton then promoted forward Cameron Abney and defenseman Teigan Zahn from Stockton to Oklahoma City.
Pelss, a rookie, had two assists in two games for the Barons. Zahn, 6-foot-2, 220 pounds, had five points and 13 penalty minutes for Stockton. Abney will provide more muscle to the Barons lineup. The 6-5, 200-pounder had five points and 156 penalty minutes last season while splitting time between Stockton and Oklahoma City.